Why we still need to talk about female entrepreneurs.
There’s an unspoken rule that there’s no need to differentiate between the sexes when it comes to job titles. The Guardian’s view is that actress - as opposed to actor - comes into the same category as “lady doctor and other seemingly obsolete terms”. The feminine variants of job titles come from generations past, when professions were largely the preserve of one gender. One term that still bears relevance today is female entrepreneur.
The need to prefix entrepreneur with female, comes from the imbalance of women starting their own businesses. Headlines rejoice in there being more female entrepreneurs than ever before, yet the statistics aren’t a cause for celebration. Only 18% of small businesses in the broader sector of arts and entertainment, are majority led by women. With women currently represent only 14% of all applications for Innovate UK funding.
If you know a female entrepreneur, you are more likely to become one. Government-backed organisations, are working to ensure that women’s ideas are heard. This is coupled with instilling the self-belief, to turn their ideas into successful businesses.
“We need to pay attention to the general message that female entrepreneurs portray, i.e. everybody can do it, women just need more confidence.” says Dr Janice Byrne, an Assistant Professor, at IESEG, Paris and author of A Feminist Enquiry into Entrepreneurship Training. “This message ignores how class/ethnicity/age can change things (further compound obstacles) for certain women and how the ‘be superwoman’ manta is actually a little dangerous.”
Talking about female-entrepreneurs normalises the idea, in a society were gender and race biases still prevail. Whether we have XX or XY chromosomes, one day we will all just be entrepreneurs. When the balance has been addressed the term female entrepreneur, and its more condescending than catchy alternative ‘fempreneur’, can finally be retired.
Words by Janice Stainton
Image by Avi Bohbot